What mes­sage are we send­ing our youth?

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Opin­ion -

Ed­i­tor:

I am writ­ing to con­vey my concerns about the pro­posed su­per­vised con­sump­tion site for Medicine Hat.

My un­der­stand­ing of what I will re­fer to as ‘the in­jec­tion site’ is that it is com­ing to Medicine Hat as a health ini­tia­tive man­dated by the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments. I am con­cerned specif­i­cally about how this site may im­pact children and young peo­ple. What mes­sage are we send­ing the next gen­er­a­tion?

As par­ents and teach­ers, we ex­plain to our children that drugs are dan­ger­ous and habit­form­ing, and that they should “just say no.” How­ever:

* As gov­ern­ment, we use health-care dol­lars to build and main­tain a space where peo­ple ad­dicted to drugs are in­vited to con­sume drugs, un­der su­per­vi­sion.

Mes­sage re­ceived: If you are su­per­vised, tak­ing drugs is OK.

* As law en­force­ment, we al­low drug buy­ing and sell­ing within a ra­dius of the in­jec­tion site, to per­mit clients to pur­chase them with­out fear of be­ing charged.

Mes­sage re­ceived: Sell­ing drugs can be safe and prof­itable. (i.e. four block ra­dius es­tab­lished by the City of Van­cou­ver: ot­tawac­i­t­i­zen.com/news/lo­cal-news/egan­po­lice-eye-on-the-nee­dle-at-low­er­town-safein­jec­tion-site )

* As health-care providers, we (some­times) test the drugs com­ing into the in­jec­tion site to de­ter­mine their com­po­si­tion.

Mes­sage re­ceived: Tak­ing drugs is OK as long as you know what it is. If we have failed to educate our kids about drugs, that is one thing.

It is quite an­other thing if we are con­fus­ing kids with mixed mes­sages. That is not “harm re­duc­tion.”

That is a moral and le­gal tarpit. Gov­ern­ment lead­ers are faced with a lot of noise on this is­sue.

In the mid­dle of it all, as they con­sider ques­tions of zon­ing, polic­ing, fund­ing, li­a­bil­ity, etc., please re­mem­ber this: there are children and young peo­ple who are drug-free.

In the con­text of gov­ern­ment-im­posed in­jec­tion sites, what is our gov­ern­ments’ plan to keep them that way?

Joyce Stigter

Medicine Hat

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